David Blake lives by the motto: “Education is too important to stay the way it is.” And he’s doing everything in his power to change it. As a co-founder of Zinch, Blake helped to create a service connecting students with universities and scholarships. Now, as founder of degreed.com, which promises to be “The New Degree for the New World,” he is continuing to challenge the status quo, a system of higher education that, in his view, isn’t working for most students. We asked Blake to share his thoughts on the future of higher education.
Why is education important to you?
Her name is Lily, age 3 and his name is Charles, age 1.
Can you describe the teacher who most influenced you?
My third-grade teacher created a unique math curriculum just for me. This kept me challenged and engaged, and who knows what a difference that made?
Describe the most inspiring day you’ve experienced as an education entrepreneur?
Here is a bit of my inspiration: http://davidablake.com/2011/03/zinch/
What is your proudest professional achievement?
I am creating tomorrow’s education today… including launching the world’s most
affordable private university.
If you could change one thing about today’s “system” of education, what would it be?
Credentials… education is free, accessible, and high quality. It is the credential we pay tens of thousands for.
What is the best opportunity for innovation in education?
Again, credentials. Kevin Carey of The New Republic has written on the subject, excerpted below:
Traditional colleges and universities exploit their monopoly over this market by overcharging students in order to generate revenue to support things that are important to [the university]. Online for-profit colleges haven’t disrupted the industry because while their business methods are different, their product—traditional credentials in the form of a degree—is not.
THAT’S WHY THE RECENT EMERGENCE OF NEW CREDENTIALS IS SO SIGNIFICANT.
The great unanswered question is when the abundance and quality of new credentials will reach a critical mass of acceptance among employers and society at large. Traditional
degrees have the great advantage of being simple and universally understood. The problem is that they provide little information about what students actually know and are becoming more expensive all the time.
THE CATALYST WILL PROBABLY BE WHEN [SOMEONE] COMPARES THE SKILLS AND PERFORMANCE OF PEOPLE WITH TRADITIONAL DEGREES TO THOSE BEARING CERTIFICATES FROM KHAN, AUDACITY, AND CREDENTIAL-GRANTERS YET TO COME.
THEN EVERYTHING WILL START TO CHANGE.
What advice would you give a new teacher (or to anyone wanting to make a difference in education)?
I agree with Seth Godin, who says: “Don’t wait for it. Pick yourself. Teach yourself. Motivate your kids. Push them to dream, against all odds.”
Access to information is not the issue. And you don’t need permission from bureaucrats. The common school is going to take a generation to fix, and we mustn’t let up the pressure until it is fixed. But in the meantime, go. Learn and lead and teach. If enough of us do this, schools will have no choice but to listen, emulate, and rush to catch up.
What is your greatest hope for the future of education?
My life’s work and personal mission is to help create an educational system that will:
* Drive the cost of learning to zero
* Promote universal access to education
* Create meaningful indicators of personal educational outcomes and success
* Help organize meaningful curricula and establish interoperable standards
* Restructure the physical learning environment
* Enable a measured and meaningful system for lifelong learning
About David Blake
David Blake received a B.S. in Economics from Brigham Young University in 2007. After holding several positions at the university, Blake became an education entrepreneur, committed to reforming what he considers to be a broken system. Blake is an Ed Tech Entrepreneur, a joint program of Teach For America and the venture philanthropy firm NewSchools Venture Fund. He is married and has two children.
Birthplace: Utah, USA
Current residence: San Francisco, California, USA
Education: “A whaleship was my Yale College and my Harvard” – Herman Melville, Moby-Dick
Websites I check every day: techcrunch, facebook, quora, nytimes, politico, twitter, pinterest
Person who inspires me most: my younger brother, social entrepreneur, featured on the cover of Inc. among many other outlets
Favorite childhood memory: Disneyland
Next travel destination (work or pleasure): Austin, Texas then Thailand
Favorite book: Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand